Whether they are in your backyard or in a forest, spruce trees are a truly beautiful and majestic part of the Colorado landscape. These blue, green beauties are truly a sight to behold. These trees are so beautiful Coloradans elected to make it our state tree.
Sadly, this Colorado symbol is under attack from a new pest. The IPS Beetle recently became a big problem for spruce trees across the Front Range.
What Is an IPS Beetle?
An IPS beetle is a member of the bark beetle family. Bark beetles are extremely tiny insects. Their bodies are encased in a hard shell. Like most parasites, bark beetles feed on and live in weak and dying trees. They also like to use dead trees for their homestead. Bark beetles mate and have their offspring under the bark of their tree hosts. This tiny tree terror can typically be found anywhere from the edge of the West Coast all the way to our beloved Rocky Mountains.
For more info on the IPS beetle, check out this poster from Colorado State University.
Identifying IPS Beetles
An IPS Beetle can easily be confused with a Pine beetle. To stop these beetles from feasting on your spruce trees, it is important to properly identify them. When you know what species you are dealing with, you can take the most effective approach to get rid of them.
Here is a list of telltale signs you are dealing with an IPS beetle.
- They are tiny, typically measuring between 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch.
- Their color can range from a light rust color to black.
- Pitch Tubes-Bark beetles leave small holes in the bark about the size of a dime or smaller. The signature of an IPS beetle is a pitch tube that is red or yellow in color. Tubes made by other beetles are usually a different color or much larger in size.
Signs Your Spruce Tree Is Under Attack by IPS Beetles
The IPS beetle population exploded in recent years. This dramatic increase in population is due to the drought of 2014 as well as changes in weather patterns in recent years.
There are a few unmistakable indicators that IPS beetles have begun to wage a war against your spruce trees:
- Change in needle color: Your spruce needles will become a light shade of yellow. Next, they will turn bright red. And finally, the needles will turn brown. This ominous color change could take anywhere from one to four months to complete.
- The presence of pitch tubes: If you see pitch tubes, it’s a good indicator you have some kind of bark beetle infestation.
- The presence of woodpeckers: Woodpeckers are a common IPS beetle predator. They will often stake out your tree hoping to dine on the beetles inside.
What to Do If Your Spruce Is Under Attack by IPS Beetles
It is often best to take a two-pronged approach when trying to exterminate IPS beetles. You want to kill the larvae and you want to make your property as inhospitable to adult IPS beetles as possible.
Strong, healthy trees are the key. Taking good care of your trees is the first step. Keeping your trees healthy will cause the beetles to move on and find a weaker host.
Remove dead wood. All bark beetles like to make a home in dead wood. You want to make sure that you keep your fresh-cut limbs away from your spruce trees as much as possible.
Watch out for infected wood. If you do find that you have limbs or firewood infested with beetles, do not place the wood next to living spruce trees.
Get rid of the larvae. Apply insecticides to infested wood to kill the beetles before they reach adulthood.
Ask Fielding Tree & Shrub Care to Remove IPS Beetle
If you think your spruce may have a bad case of ‘beetle mania’, our expert arborists will help you beat your beetles once and for all. We can help you positively identify the type of pests you are dealing with. We can also work with you to develop an all-encompassing eradication strategy.
Don’t battle IPS beetles alone. Give us a call today!